…As Tin can Customs Intercept 34 Containers of Rotten Rice
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Despite the closure of the land borders across Nigeria by the Nigeria Customs Service, Republic of Benin, one of Nigeria’s neighbors and major target of the border closure has ordered importation of rice worth $32million from Japan.
The total population of Benin Republic is 11million people, an indication that the rice is targeted for smuggling and consumption in Nigeria with a population of 200million people.
This was revealed by the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali (rtd) when he was showcasing a remarkable seizure of 34 containers of expired rice as well as other assorted seizures at the Tin Can Island Command in Lagos yesterday.
Ali said that as long as Nigeria do not get Benin Republic to seat down with Federal Government and agree to implement the ECOWAS tariff, the borders would remain close.
The Customs noted that “The first objective of the border closure is to get our neighboring ports to comply with the extant laws established by ECOWAS on transit goods, no matter what we do now, if our neighbors do not comply with these laws and ensure that protocol is properly adhered to, these things would still find their way into Nigeria”
“For instance now, our neighbors, Benin Republic, apart from the quantum of rice that is going there, they have just signed an agreement with Japan to supply them rice worth $32million, this is a country of about 11million people, what would they do with $32million worth of rice if it is not meant for Nigeria of 200 million people that consumes rice”
Meanwhile, 33 containers of rice, 1 container of rice concealed with spare parts, 11 containers of unregistered pharmaceutical products, 2 containers of used tyres, 1 container of used clothing’s and 4 containers of refined vegetable oil in retail packs were intercepted at Tin Can Island Port.
The total number of containers are 54, comprising of 15 forty feet containers and 39 twenty foot containers with duty paid value of N2billion (2, 713, 865, 51)
Some of the rice had addresses in Abuja and Lagos, while some has extra empty bags, indicating that the importers intended to re-bag them once its cleared. Some of the rice came from Thailand while some came from China.The rice are not just expired, but they have been inundated by rodents.
Col Ali said that all the containers are seized in line with CEMA Act, cap 45, the laws of the federal republic of Nigeria 2004, section 46 and 161.
He also commended officers and men of Tin Can Island Port for a job well done. He said “I am also aware of the commands revenue collection drive.
Statistics in my office has shown that the command has so far collected N 286, 742, 551, 443 from January 2019 till date, I therefore urge the command to keep up the good work and possibly surpass their target”
He restated the resolve of the customs service and other sister agencies to secure the land borders and seaports against such dangerous items.
“We would investigate and find out who owned these addresses, they would be called to justice, they must come and explain how related they are to these consignments”
“Closure of the borders has led to the diversion of cargoes to the seaports.
While we welcome these development, which no doubt will boost our revenue, trade facilitation and sustain our diversification efforts, we have also recorded the seizure of unwholesome products which otherwise would have been smuggled through the borders”
“Haven realised that there might be possible backlash of the border closure, I directed all the seaports and airports to beef up their surveillance and intercept any illicit and prohibited consignment for which attempts for their smuggling may be made through the entry points”